Symptoms Of An Asthma Attack
Signs that you may be having an asthma attack include:
- your symptoms are getting worse
- your reliever inhaler is not helping
- youâre too breathless to speak, eat or sleep
- your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you cannot catch your breath
- your peak flow score is lower than normal
- children may also complain of a tummy or chest ache
The symptoms will not necessarily occur suddenly. In fact, they often come on slowly over a few hours or days.
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“Asthma attacks occur when your body reacts to asthma triggers, which can include pollen, cigarette smoke and pets among many other things,” explained Sonia.
“When breathed in, an asthma trigger irritates the airways, making them react and become inflamed and narrow, which leads to asthma symptoms.
“While you may not be able to control how much you are exposed to your asthma triggers, you can build up your protection against them by taking your preventer medication as prescribed.
“This reduces and soothes the inflammation in your sensitive airways and means they are less likely to react when you come into contact with asthma triggers.
“Everyone with asthma should also make sure they keep their blue reliever inhaler with them at all times in case of an emergency.”
Individual Triggers May Serve As Warning Signs
One of the neat things about asthma is that it communicates with you, letting you know when you are around one of your asthma triggers. How it communicates is by presenting you with early warning signs of asthma.
These signs include chest tightness, anxiety, runny nose, sneezing, coughing, headache, itchy chin, and neck, etc.
To learn your individual symptoms, you will actually have to experience an asthma attack. However, by observing the signs, and learning them, you can actually prevent future asthma attacks. So, once you observe your early warning signs, consider yourself “forewarned” that you are around something that is triggering your asthma, and it’s time to stop what you are doing, remove yourself from the situation, and treat yourself according to your asthma management plan, if necessary.
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What To Do After An Asthma Attack
An asthma attack can be a learning experience if you and your doctor use it to refine your asthma action plan. Get some tips on what to do after an asthma attack.
An asthma attack is a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms that causes your air passages to become smaller and makes your breathing more difficult. Symptoms of an asthma attack may include difficult and painful breathing, coughing, and . Anyone with asthma needs to have a plan for what to do during an asthma attack. But you should also know what to do after an asthma attack.
You cant always avoid an asthma attack, but you can check in with your doctor and use an asthma attack as a way to improve your asthma management, said Jonathan Bernstein, MD, an associate professor in allergy and asthma at the University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center. In some cases, an asthma attack may be an indication that you need to make some changes.
Seeing your doctor after an asthma attack is especially important if you are newly diagnosed. Discussing the attack with your doctor can help you learn more about your asthma and empower you to manage your asthma better in the future, said Sumita Khatri, MD, co-director of the asthma center at the Cleveland Clinic.
What Is An Asthma Action Plan
Your healthcare provider will work with you to develop an asthma action plan. This plan tells you how and when to use your medicines. It also tells you what to do if your asthma gets worse and when to seek emergency care. Understand the plan and ask your healthcare provider about anything you dont understand.
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How Can You Tell If You Have Asthma
It can be hard to tell if someone has asthma, especially in children under age 5. Having a doctor check how well your lungs work and check for allergies can help you find out if you have asthma.
During a checkup, a doctor will ask if you cough a lot, especially at night. He or she will also ask whether your breathing problems are worse after physical activity or at certain times of year. The doctor will then ask about chest tightness, wheezing, and colds lasting more than 10 days. He or she will ask whether anyone in your family has or has had asthma, allergies, or other breathing problems. Finally, the doctor will ask questions about your home and whether you have missed school or work or have trouble doing certain things.
The doctor may also do a breathing test, called spirometry, to find out how well your lungs are working by testing how much air you can breathe out after taking a very deep breath before and after you use asthma medicine.
Signs That You Need To Use Asthma First Aid
If you are experiencing any of the following signs, start asthma first aid. Do not wait until asthma is severe.
Mild to moderate asthma signs :
- minor difficulty breathing
- able to talk in full sentences
- able to walk or move around
- may have a cough or wheeze.
Severe asthma signs for an ambulance and commence asthma first aid):
- obvious difficulty breathing
- cannot speak a full sentence in one breath
- tugging of the skin between ribs or at base of neck
- may have cough or wheeze
- reliever medication not lasting as long as usual.
Life-threatening asthma signs for an ambulance and commence asthma first aid):
- finds it very difficult to breathe
- unable to speak one to two words per breath
- confused or exhausted
- is getting little or no relief from their reliever inhaler
- may no longer have wheeze or cough.
In asthma emergencies, follow your Asthma Action Plan.
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My Personal Experience With Recognizing Warning Signs
I can actually give an example here. I personally have a severe allergy to dust mites. When exposed to them I start sneezing, my chin itches, and I get chest tightness. These are my early warning signs. By heeding them, and getting away from dust mites right away, the symptoms usually go away on their own. However, if I wait too long, an asthma attack occurs, requiring me to resort to my Asthma Action Plan. So, I have learned through my own asthma experiences what my early warning signs are, and what to do when I observe them.
Your job as an asthmatic is to learn your early warning signs and work with your doctor on an asthma management plan for what to do when you observe them. If actually wrote a more in-depth article on this subject if you are interested: “Symptoms and Signs: How Asthma Communicates.”
Watch How To Help Someone Who Is Having An Asthma Attack
What is asthma?
Asthma is a medical condition that affects the airways the tubes that carry air in and out of the lungs. When someone has an asthma attack, these tubes become narrowed, making it difficult to breathe in and out.
How can I tell if someone is having an asthma attack?
People with asthma should be able to let you know if they are having an attack.
Someone having an asthma attack will have difficulty breathing and speaking, and may cough and wheeze. They may be very anxious and distressed as they struggle to breathe.In some cases, their lips, earlobes and nail beds may turn greyish-blue because there isnt enough oxygen in their body.
What sort of medication will someone with asthma use?
Someone who has asthma will normally have an inhaler that their doctor has prescribed. They may also have a spacer, which makes the inhaler more effective.
If someone is having an asthma attack they should know how to use their inhaler and spacer but they may need your help in finding them.
What does an inhaler look like?
Inhalers can come in many different sizes and shapes. Inhalers to relieve asthma attacks are usually blue. Inhalers that prevent asthma attacks may be brown or white.
How do you use an inhaler?
If a person has asthma they should know how to use their inhaler, they may need your help getting it for them. They should take it as normal. If that doesnt help they can take one or two puffs every 30 or 60 seconds until theyve had 10 puffs.
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Get Your Friend Away From The Trigger
Asthma attacks are often triggered by something. Severe stress and anxiety can be triggers. A few other common triggers include cigarette smoke, pet dander, and dust. There are also chemical odors that can trigger an attack such as the smell of sulfur dioxide, ammonia, and chlorine gas. As soon as the attack begins, it is important to get your friend away from the trigger as quickly as possible. If the attack was triggered by extreme stress or anxiety, try to calm your friend down. If it was caused by an environmental trigger, you should get your friend to an area where the air is clean as quickly as possible. The longer the triggers remain, the worse the attack will be.
It is important that anyone who has asthma always carries their inhaler. If your friend is having an asthma attack and they dont have their inhaler, the tips above could save their life.
Know The Signs Of An Asthma Attack
Youre having an asthma attack if:
- your blue reliever isn’t helping, or you need to use it more than every four hours
- you’re wheezing a lot, have a very tight chest, or you’re coughing a lot
- you’re breathless and find it difficult to walk or talk
- your breathing is getting faster and it feels like you can’t get your breath in properly
You may have all of these signs and symptoms. Or you may have just some of them. For example, you may not wheeze.
Know your early warning signs
An asthma attack happens when your symptoms get much worse. This can happen quite suddenly or can build up gradually over a few days.
You can stop an asthma attack before it happens, or make it less serious so you dont end up in hospital, by recognising when your symptoms are getting worse.
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Follow Your Asthma Action Plan And Keep It Updated
Its a good idea to have an asthma action plan. This plan should include what medication you should take, what are your possible triggers , and what emergency steps youll take during an asthma attack. Its important to know what the action items are for when you need them.
This plan should also be that might happen in your life. For example, if you start taking a different type of medicine or develop a food allergy.
It can also be helpful to have your loved one, close friend or colleague know about your plan so they can help out when needed. If possible, send them a copy of your asthma action plan.
How To Help Someone With An Asthma Attack Without An Inhaler
Asthma is a very common condition with around one in 13 of us affected. Itâs been increasing since the 1980s and affects people of all ages and backgrounds. Thereâs currently no cure for asthma, but typically with the right treatment plan and lifestyle changes, most people diagnosed with asthma are able to live normally without severe symptoms.
However, very occasionally, a person with asthma may be caught off guard. They might find themselves facing an attack without an inhaler to help them. Fortunately, this doesnât need to be as bad as it might sound. With the right assistance, they could get through an attack using some simple coping techniques.
If you know someone with asthma, learning more about their condition, as well as what you can do to help them, can be valuable.
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Asthma Signs & Symptoms
People with asthma experience symptoms due to inflammation in the airways. They might only occur when you encounter an asthma trigger. Common symptoms that can lead to a diagnosis of asthma include:
- Persistent or recurring coughing: which often occurs at night or early in the morning, although it can happen at any time. Coughing is a major feature of asthma, especially in children and can sometimes be the only sign of asthma.
- Wheezing: is difficulty breathing accompanied by a whistling sound coming from your airways
- Shortness of breath: gives you the feeling that you cant get enough air into your lungs, and may even find it difficult to eat, sleep or speak
- Chest tightness: an unpleasant sensation of heaviness or pressure in the chest that can make it hard to breathe
- Increased mucus production: is characterized by high levels of thick fluid or phlegm accumulating in your airways
- Difficulty breathing while exercising: having trouble breathing while performing physical activities can be a sign of asthma
- Losing Sleep: Being unable to sleep through the night because of breathing troubles
Keep Your Friend Calm
If you ask anyone with asthma what an attack feels like, they will tell you that it is unbelievably frightening. If your friend is having an asthma attack, you need to try to keep them calm. If they are afraid that they are going to die while they struggle for breath, it can tighten the chest muscles which can make the attack even worse. You should do everything that you can to keep your friend calm until help arrives.
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What Are Common Asthma Attack Triggers
An asthma attack happens when someone comes in contact with substances that irritate them. Healthcare providers call these substances triggers. Knowing what triggers your asthma makes it easier to avoid asthma attacks.
For some people, a trigger can bring on an attack right away. Sometimes, an attack may start hours or days later.
Triggers can be different for each person. But some common triggers include:
- Air pollution: Many things outside can cause an asthma attack. Air pollution includes factory emissions, car exhaust, wildfire smoke and more.
- Dust mites: You cant see these bugs, but they are in many homes. If you have a dust mite allergy, they can cause an asthma attack.
- Exercise: For some people, exercising can cause an attack.
- Mold: Damp places can spawn mold. It can cause problems for people with asthma. You dont even have to be allergic to mold to have an attack.
- Pests: Cockroaches, mice and other household pests can cause asthma attacks.
- Pets: Your pets can cause asthma attacks. If youre allergic to pet dander , breathing in the dander can irritate your airways.
- Tobacco smoke: If you or someone in your home smokes, you have a higher risk of developing asthma. The best solution is to quit smoking.
- Strong chemicals or smells.
With asthma, you may not have all of these symptoms. You may have different signs at different times. And symptoms can change between asthma attacks.
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What To Do When Someone Has An Asthma Attack
Three people died and more than 2000 became sick during the freak thunderstorm asthma epidemic which struck Melbourne on Monday. So what is asthma, how do you know if you’ve got it and what should you do in the case of an attack? Your questions are answered here.
What is asthma?
A patient at Sunshine Hospital receiving treatment for asthma during last year’s crisis.Credit:Justin McManus
Asthma is a serious respiratory condition that causes difficulty breathing and can even death. An asthma attack can quickly become an asthma emergency, but with quick action, the risk of an asthma emergency can be reduced.
What are the symptoms?
- a tight feeling in the chest
- wheezing whistling noise when breathing
- shortness of breath
- not eat or drink as much
- have a tummy ache and vomiting
- become tired quickly
- get more puffed out than usual when running and playing
What should I do?
To use asthma first aid:
- sit the person upright
- give four puffs of reliever medication , taking four breaths for each puff. Use a spacer if one is available
- wait four minutes if the person still cannot breathe normally, give four more puffs
- if there is still no improvement, call triple-0 for an ambulance. Tell the operator that someone is having an asthma emergency
- continue to give four separate puffs of reliever medication, taking four breaths for each puff, every four minutes until the ambulance arrives
When should I ring an ambulance?
Where can I get help?
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What Asthma Treatment Options Are There
You have options to help manage your asthma. Your healthcare provider may prescribe medications to control symptoms. These include:
- Anti-inflammatory medicines: These medicines reduce swelling and mucus production in your airways. They make it easier for air to enter and exit your lungs. Your healthcare provider may prescribe them to take every day to control or prevent your symptoms.
- Bronchodilators: These medicines relax the muscles around your airways. The relaxed muscles let the airways move air. They also let mucus move more easily through the airways. These medicines relieve your symptoms when they happen.
- Biologic therapies for asthma when symptoms persist despite being on proper inhaler therapy.
You can take asthma medicines in several different ways. You may breathe in the medicines using a metered-dose inhaler, nebulizer or other inhaler. Your healthcare provider may prescribe oral medications that you swallow.